Culture&Arts

Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to lying about attack

Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to lying about attack

Almost a month and a half after Jussie Smollett claimed he was brutally assaulted in the streets of Chicago, theEmpire actor appeared in court today to enter a plea to multiple charges of having given a false account to the police.

According to a tweet from Chicago's CBS affiliate, Smollett will be allowed to travel to NY and Los Angeles without asking the court permission as he awaits trial. Smollett's case was assigned to a trial judge, Judge Steven Watkins, before the actor's lawyer Tina Glandian entered not guilty pleas on his behalf to the 16 counts. Despite a flood of personal texts and other evidence that prosecutors presented in that late February hearing, Smollett has always insisted on his innocence and that he did not stage the attack.

Smollett reported to police in January that he had been attacked in Chicago in an incident that ended with a noose around his neck. Police and prosecutors have said that attack was a hoax, but Smollett's attorneys said they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case.

In an indictment returned by a grand jury last Thursday, Smollett, who is black, openly gay and plays a gay musician on Fox's hip-hop drama, was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct alleging he gave false accounts of an attack on him to police investigators.

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Smollett's arraignment hearing followed the midseason premiere of "Empire", which resumed Wednesday.

The indictment says Smollett told police he was attacked around 2 a.m.by two men who used racial and homophobic slurs.

"This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy in tampering with his medical records". Smollett's attorneys said they have no statement at this time. The men were released without being charged. Allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful and if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor & respected him as a role model.

It has already been announced that Smollett's character won't appear in the final two episodes of the season, and TMZ reports it will be explained that he is "out of the country".


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